Peter David

Trancers 5: Sudden Deth (1994, David Nutter)

There are no good parts to Trancers 5: Sudden Deth. The best parts, however, are when you forget you’re watching an actual motion picture–or even a direct-to-video release on a name label–and think you’re instead watching some terrible fantasy movie shot by the staff of a renaissance fair. At one point there’s a magic map and it looks like an eight year-old’s treasure map to their Halloween candy (hidden under their bed). It’s ludicrous. Not in an endearing way, but definitely in a way slightly more amusing than anything else going on in Trancers 5. Because Trancers 5 is really, really bad.

Tim Thomerson escapes as unscathed as humanly possible. He doesn’t have a single good line in the entire movie, not a single good moment because Nutter’s direction is so lame and Peter David’s script is so weak; he never embarrasses himself further than the inherent embarrassment of being involved with such a production.

Almost every other performance is horrific. Clabe Hartley, Ty Miller, Terri Ivens. They’re all awful. Mark Arnold is awful in a different way; he tries and fails. No one else tries.

The story has Thomerson and Miller going to a haunted castle to get a time diamond to send Thomerson back home. It’s occasionally a lot like a tone-deaf, terrible Army of Darkness knock-off. The plotting is dumb. Just about halfway through, it gets a lot worse as Miller gets the first of his many “I’m an energy vampire but I’m okay” speeches. Bad writing, bad directing, bad acting. Thomerson gets credit for not rolling his eyes in the two shots during these deliveries.

The boringness of Trancers 5–the relentless lameness throughout–is the worst part. It opens with too long opening titles, then a seven minute recap of the previous film (poorly narrated by Arnold). Then it’s only like an hour of actual movie and every minute of it is lame.

Also lame are Adolfo Bartoli’s photography and Gary Fry’s music.

Trancers 5 is dreadful.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by David Nutter; screenplay by Peter David, based on characters created by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo; director of photography, Adolfo Bartoli; edited by Lisa Bromwell; music by Gary Fry; production designer, Mircea-Dudus Neagu; produced by Michael Catalano, Oana Paunescu and Vlad Paunescu; released by Paramount Home Video.

Starring Tim Thomerson (Jack Deth), Ty Miller (Prospero), Terri Ivens (Shaleen), Clabe Hartley (Lord Caliban), Stacie Randall (Lyra), Mark Arnold (Lucius), Jeff Moldovan (Harson) and Stephen Macht (Harris).


Trancers 4: Jack of Swords (1994, David Nutter)

I’m not sure where to start with Trancers 4 except I don’t recommend anyone else ever watch this film. Especially not if you like Trancers or even Tim Thomerson. That definite discouragement aside, for a direct-to-video sequel shot in Romania and set in a different universe like an episode of the original “Star Trek” just so they could use castles and magic and dumb shit, Trancers 4: Jack of Swords could be worse.

It’s bad. It’s a very bad film and director Nutter completely misses the chance to give it any charm whatsoever; he’s really bad. But it could be worse. Peter David’s script is quirky in its plotting. One can only imagine who he had in mind for playing the villain. Instead of anyone good, it’s Clabe Hartley, who kind of acts like a Chippendales dancer trying out to be a magician in 1984. But I’m not even sure Hartley gives the worst performance in the film. He’s energetic. He’s bad at his job but he’s trying.

But Hartley’s still bad because Trancers 4 is bad. It’s just affably simple. Once you get past all the stupidity in the production–like rebel leader Terri Ivens having on a leather bikini top–David’s script is reliably predictable. Nutter butchers whatever pacing the script’s got and doesn’t seem to direct the actors at all.

The not always bad performances are from Stacie Randall, Ty Miller, Alan Oppenheimer and Stephen Macht. Mark Arnold for some reason gets the worst direction in the film as Hartley’s sidekick and it appears to be because Nutter doesn’t understand the script. He probably should’ve asked David to explain it to him. And Arnold, who’s lost, but occasionally seems like he thinks he’s trapped in a terrible comedy.

Lochlyn Munro is bad.

Technically, it could be worse. There are no crew standouts but it’s obvious Nutter’s bad at the whole shot composition thing so there’s only so much the cinematographer and the editor can do. Gary Fry’s music is pretty lame. And the stupid thing has three minute opening titles; they’re desperately trying to pad this thing. It’s seventy-four minutes and has some boring stretches.

Maybe the worst part is the opening with Thomerson in future L.A. was terrible but not without potential. Thomerson’s lost here. The direction’s bad, he’s sharing too much of the script with the supporting cast, it’s a bad part. Thomerson does try and he’s still Thomerson, but Tracers 4 fails him worst of all.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by David Nutter; screenplay by Peter David, based on characters created by Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo; director of photography, Adolfo Bartoli; edited by Lisa Bromwell; music by Gary Fry; production designer, Mircea-Dudus Neagu; produced by Michael Catalano, Oana Paunescu and Vlad Paunescu; released by Paramount Home Video.

Starring Tim Thomerson (Jack Deth), Stacie Randall (Lyra), Clabe Hartley (Caliban), Ty Miller (Prospero), Mark Arnold (Lucius), Terri Ivens (Shaleen), Lochlyn Munro (Sebastian), Alan Oppenheimer (Farr) and Stephen Macht (Harris).


Rocketeer Adventures 2 1 (March 2012)

863520The best story in this issue is Peter David and Bill Sienkiewicz spoofing “Merry Melodies” cartoons, featuring Daffy as the Ducketeer. The art’s great, the script’s funny; David knows how to pace the story right. It’s nice because it’s so subtle–obviously, there’d be pop culture about America’s only science hero.

Stan Sakai’s story makes a similar acknowledgement, but it tries too hard. Or maybe Sakai’s art just doesn’t work for the story. Cliff encounters a farm boy with parents named Jonathan and Martha and a nemesis named Lex. It’s cute, but slight. And the way Sakai draws faces is off-putting.

The worst is Marc Guggenheim and Sandy Plunkett’s story. The art is good, but the writing is moronic. Cliff’s injured and unconscious; his rescuers have to decide if they’re turning him in since he’s a wanted vigilante. Guggenheim’s script gets worse as it goes.

It’s a disappointing issue.

CREDITS

The Good Guys; writer, Marc Guggenheim; artist, Sandy Plunkett; colorist, Jeromy Cox; letterer, Robbie Robbins. The Ducketeer; writer, Peter David; artist, colorist and letterer, Bill Sienkiewicz. A Dream of Flying; writer, artist and letterer, Stan Sakai; colorist, Dave Stewart. Editor, Scott Dunbier; publisher, IDW Publishing.

Tron 2 (February 2011)

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Most of this issue is completely awful. Some of the fault is David’s, some of it is Pierfederici’s, some is Marvel’s. The adaptation clearly needs three issues, not two–David manages to get the comic back on track in the last pages, adding some sense of reason to the final events (something the movie skips over too, which is perfect for a kids movie).

Pierfederici is mostly awful this issue, trying to compress a bunch of action set pieces into a few pages. If someone hasn’t seen the movie, it’d be impossible to understand what’s going on.

David takes a lot of shortcuts too, which isn’t so bad, but instead of just using narration to move things along, he cuts. He cuts and he keeps the bad film dialogue.

I was looking forward to this part of the adaptation because I thought Pierfederici’d do something with the visuals.

He doesn’t.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter David; artist and colorist, Mirco Pierfederici; letterer, Nate Piekos; editors, Charlie Beckerman, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Tron 1 (January 2011)

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I couldn’t resist. The idea is just too strange–a comic book adaptation of a twenty-eight year-old movie (yes, I know, IDW does these things, but this release is from Marvel)–and with Peter David writing. Whatever his problems, David is a far better writer than Tron writer Steven Lisberger.

So how is Tron as a comic book? Better than as a movie.

There’s only so much David can do, of course.

He retains a lot of the dialogue and about thirty percent of it is so bad it doesn’t even work in comic form. But most of David’s third-person narration works; it even feels like he’s writing a classic movie adaptation… though he wasn’t even working in comics in 1982, I don’t think.

Artist Pierfederici is also problematic. He’s way too glossy to be retro, but not design-oriented enough for it to be anything different.

CREDITS

Writer, Peter David; artist and colorist, Mirco Pierfederici; letterer, Nate Piekos; editor, Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man 111 (February 1986)

peter-parker-111.jpgAs far as lame battles go, I think Puma vs. Beyonder–actually continuing it–is about as lame as you can get.

Maybe it’s just Priest’s writing (The issue credits Priest, online says Peter David wrote it. Hmm. Who’s really at fault?). I usually like it, but here it’s tired. Between the blabbering thought balloons (for every character) to Peter Parker man-slutting*, it’s just a mess.

The art might add significantly to the pain–I know it made me hurry through the comic so I could stop looking at it. Buckler’s inks are by the bullpen and it hurts. Though his pencils aren’t wowing to begin with.

So a c-list character duking it out with the lead of an enormous crossover event?

Spider-Man’s barely in here.

* Apparently, when Joe Quesada says marriage ruined Peter Parker, he meant Peter’s ability to successfully objectify every female character he encounters.

CREDITS

And Then the Gods Cried; writer, Peter David; penciller, Rich Buckler; inker, M. Hands; colorist, Nelson Yomtov; letterer, Janice Chiang; editors, Adam Blaustein and Christopher Priest; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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